Impossible Objects raises $6.4M to grow staff in marketing, sales and R&D

Additive manufacturing startup Impossible Objects just stacked up a $6.4 million Series A.

Returning investor OCA Ventures led the round, which was also joined by IDEA Fund Partners, Mason Avenue Investments, Huizenga Capital Management and Inflection Equity Partners.

“3D printing is on a trajectory to disrupt traditional manufacturing,” said CEO Larry Kaplan. “We believe that we’ll accelerate that trajectory and be at the forefront of it.”

Impossible Objects uses composite-based additive manufacturing technology –– or CBAM –– to create functional parts and tools quickly and at scale.

Like most 3D printing, this technology relies on adding layers of material on top of each other to create a three-dimensional object. But Impossible Objects’s technology lets users use higher-strength materials and print at a faster pace.

To Kaplan, those features mean 3D printers can replace some of the equipment used in traditional manufacturing.

“The process involves feeding 2D sheets of composite materials into what is essentially an ink jet printer,” Kaplan said. “Ordinary [ink jet] heads wet the part shape onto the fabric, and the sheet goes through a system that drops thermoplastic powder across it. The powder sticks to where the sheet was wet, and the final stack of sheets is heated and pressed. The polymer bonds the sheets together to form the part.”

Impossible Objects is currently forming partnerships with original equipment manufacturers to test pilot versions of its printers. The company’s flagship printer, the Model One, will be commercially available sometime in 2018. 

Kaplan says the company’s printers have the capability to produce everything from automotive parts to medical devices.

“Impossible Objects is leading the way by using its technology to transform how the largest corporations manufacture,” said OCA Ventures general partner Ian Drury in a statement. “The market opportunity for a revolutionary industrial additive manufacturing solution such as Impossible Objects’ CBAM is enormous and the company has huge momentum right now.”

Impossible Objects plans to use its funding to grow its research and development team along with its sales and marketing staff. The company has a current headcount of 17 full-time employees, and Kaplan said he could easily foresee the team doubling in size during 2018.

 

Image via Impossible Objects.

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Impossible Objects Receives $2.8m Investment to 3D Print with Kevlar, Fiberglass & Carbon Fiber

Impossible Objects is, even for the 3D printing world, apparently doing the impossible. The focus of the company is to create the world’s first composite 3D printed objects, using an impressive variety of materials, to revolutionize the already-revolutionary 3D printing space.

Larry Kaplan heads up the Impossible Objects team as the CEO. The former CEO of Navteq, Kaplan is leading the five-employee firm’s chaimpossible objects logorge in developing novel 3D manufacturing machines to enhance upon the presently available capabilities.

“Current technologies are 20 or so years old,” said Kaplan. “They are great for prototyping but too slow compared to volume manufacturing. The parts coming out of 3-D weren’t as good as traditional manufacturing. To make a dent in manufacturing, you have to overcome the challenges of 3-D printing: speed of production, using a wider range of materials and coming up with superior mechanical properties.”

To help Impossible Objects on this venture, several new investors are jumping in to back the startup. Today, December 16th, Northbrook, Illinois-based Impossible Objects has received new investments to the tune of $2.8 million from OCA Ventures and angel investors. Among the angel investors are Armando Pauker (a partner at Apex Venture Partners in Chicago) and Len Wanger (managing partner at Deer Valley Ventures of Park City, Utah).

larry kaplan ceo impossible objects

Larry Kaplan, CEO, Impossible Objects

The $2.8 million investment will lead to a strengthening in Impossible Objects’ offerings, from 3D printers to sales and marketing efforts. And it looks like they have just the right leadership team in place to advance the additive manufacturing space. With Kaplan as the CEO and serial entrepreneur Robert (Bob) Swartz, the company’s founder , now serving as the chairman and adviser, the experience at the top of this ladder exudes confidence and competence. In addition to Swartz and Kaplan, the Impossible Objects team includes Chief Manufacturing Officer John Bayldon, as well as a lab manager and a manufacturing technician.

After founding Impossible Objects, Swartz brought Kaplan on as CEO in June, expanding from his previous experience in leading Navteq through its IPO and subsequent sale to Nokia.

“OCA invested in Impossible Objects because it’s being led by an all-star team of Larry and Bob, who have a lot of experience building companies from early stage startups to IPO,” said Imran Ahmad, principal at OCA Ventures.

The newly invested seed money will help Impossible Objects in the goal to bring 3D printed components straight into use — they’re not looking to simply prototype. By creating their products using composite materials, Kaplan notes that they are immediately usable. They use two or more materials, from Kevlar to carbon fiber to fiberglass, in creating their products. This array of materials in each piece presents more usability than simple thermoplastic or limited metal options found in most 3D printers could provide. “Our parts,” said Kaplan, “are not just for prototypes; they’re for end use.”

impossible object things

Impossible Objects has already created viable components for use in small aircraft and a fan blade. Looking at the longer term, the company is seeking to target aerospace, automotive, and medical applications which all require fail-proof parts. The machines that Impossible Objects seeks to make are based on technology that Swartz developed. They now use two machines to create their 3D printed objects, and presently serve aerospace and trucking industry customers. According to Kaplan, Impossible Objects will begin to sell industrial machines in about a year.

The additive manufacturing technology from Impossible Objects relies on a patent-pending process that Kaplan describes as a “combination [that] gives you the strength [of fiber] but the light weight of a polymer or plastic,” while also accentuating speed. A goal of the company is to enhance production speed to rival that of injection molding processes. For Impossible Objects’ process, polymer material is laid on thin sheets of fiber in the designed shape. These sheets are stacked, heated to reach the melting point of the polymer, and fused together. Excess material, finally, is buffed away via mechanical abrasion.

What do you think about additive manufacturing using composite materials? Let us know in the Impossible Objects Receives $2.8 Million Investment forum thread at 3DPB.com.

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